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Dialogue must serve truth, Catholic leader says in response to women's conference

Dialogue must serve truth, Catholic leader says in response to women's conference

The cardinal, a pastoral moderate who leads the dicastery for laity, family and life, said an event in the Vatican presupposes Papal support, although he stressed he was open to dialogue with the group.

Similarly, Hasson said the Church's teachings on marriage and sexuality will not change, "so agitation for change in those areas is counterproductive and is more likely to confuse people or give scandal".

"We don't want to be what the Pope describes as "the strawberry on the cake", she said. Women do not have strong role models in the Church they can look up to".

Scheduled to coincide with International Women's Day, a socialist-inspired holiday originally instigated by the Second International Socialist Women's Conference in 1910, the Voices of Faith conference reportedly sought to demand a greater say for women in Church governance.

Nivedita asked for the Church to create more space for young and especially female voices to be heard.

This year, the event, called Why Women Matter, had to move from its traditional location in the Vatican to the Jesuit Center in Rome after Cardinal Kevin Farrell denied McAleese permission to speak in the Vatican.

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Commenting on the church's opposition to women priests, the former president said: "I've read everything written on the subject, all the stuff that was recommended to me by Cardinal Desmond Connell when I wrote and said to him 'tell me all the arguments in favour of excluding women, ' and when I read them they were so stupid I realised very quickly that it was codology dressed up as theology".

Hasson is also director of the Catholic Women's Forum, an worldwide network of women dedicated to amplifying the role women both in the Church and in society in support of Church teaching.

"Failure to include women as equals has deprived the Church of fresh and innovative discernment; it has consigned it to recycled thinking among a hermetically sealed cosy male clerical elite flattered and rarely challenged", said McAleese. Simone Campbell, known for her involvement in the "Nuns on the Bus", who works in legal advocacy for the poor yet supports the legalization of abortion, contraception and has pushed for women's ordination.

In 1994 John Paul II ruled against female ordination and said this position should be "definitively held" by all Catholics.

"We may not be attending Mass, but we are out there making a difference", Nivedita said. "We watch the exodus of talented, educated young women".

"I am really not planning to go anywhere!" she said. "We have different gifts, talents, and purposes in society and the Church", observed Gress.